The Atlanta City Council approved a resolution at its Oct. 2 meeting urging the release of body camera footage of Johnny Hollman’s death after the local deacon became unresponsive while being taken into police custody following a traffic accident.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of Hollman, 62, who died Aug. 10 after Atlanta Police used a taser on him at the scene of a traffic accident near Morehouse College. The Atlanta Police Department is also conducting an investigation.
An APD report said officers determined the accident was Hollman’s fault and when they tried to issue a traffic citation, Hollman “became agitated and uncooperative.” APD Officer Kiran Kimbrough used a taser on Hollman and handcuffed him. Hollman was then found to be unresponsive. He later died at Grady Hospital.
The family of Hollman has been calling for the APD to release the body camera footage since his death. Many members spoke during public comment at the Oct. 2 council meeting to continue their emotional pleas that the footage be released.
“I come with a heavy heart, tears in my eyes,” said Anitra Hollman, the oldest daughter of Johnny Hollman, during public comment at the council meeting.
“He left my house from Bible study. We had a wonderful Bible study. But little did I know that was going to be my last encounter with my daddy — him telling me he loved me, and me telling him I love him,” she said.
The family has reviewed five minutes of the body camera footage, which Anitra Hollman described as “so hurtful.”
“I need somebody to understand the pain that we’re going through,” she said.
“Y’all need to ask for that video to be released so y’all can see it. And then tell me how you feel,” she said. “We’re asking for it to be released so we can show transparency, so we can move on to the next chapter of our life.”
Councilmember Michael Bond introduced the resolution asking Mayor Andre Dickens and the APD to release the Aug. 10 video recording of the police incident for immediate consideration. The resolution asked specifically for the “release of the Aug. 10 video recording of a police related incident involving Mr. Johnny Holloman as requested by his family.”
City attorney Amber Robinson told the council that an employee response session for Officer Kimbrough was scheduled for Thursday. During the session, the police chief is to determine if disciplinary actions are warranted.
She said the law department did not have any problems with the resolution as worded.
The resolution was approved and sent to the mayor’s office for immediate consideration. Resolutions are not the same as ordinances because they are only making requests and not creating legislation that must be implemented.
Mayor Dickens said in a written statement he also wants the body camera footage released to the public, but the city must ensure doing so does not interfere with the ongoing investigations.
He also said he directed the APD to make immediate changes to its procedures with traffic citations after a review was conducted of the department’s training curriculum following Hollman’s death.
“During this time, we have worked closely with the Hollman family to not only express our condolences, but to provide assistance as well,” Dickens said in the statement.
“The city has also provided the opportunity for the family and their attorney to view the body worn camera video with the express permission of the authorities who are investigating this unfortunate event,” the mayor said.
“Make no mistake, I want this footage out in the public sphere quickly and have asked for options to expedite that process without compromising any investigation that will ensure justice is served.
“While there is nothing that can undo what was done, at my direction there have been changes to APD’s procedures with traffic citations where a refusal to sign the citation will no longer result in an arrest,” Dickens said. “Every loss of life matters to me personally, and my thoughts remain with the Hollman family.”
The APD issued a news release that said the body camera footage is part of a pending homicide investigation. The GBI and APD have directed the city not to release the video until the investigation is closed.
“We all want justice, and in order for there to be a just outcome, there are policies and procedures in place to ensure a proper and thorough investigation as well as due process in the upcoming administrative hearing,” the APD said.